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Travel Photography: Choosing a Location

Sep 4, 2008
If you are a professional travel photographer, chances are that you won't get to choose the location for your next assignment. But if you are just starting out, creating your own assignments is a great way of building your portfolio and gaining some valuable experience. So how do you choose a location to shoot?

Make it interesting

As a general rule, the more interested you are in a subject or destination, the more time and effort you put into your photos. While it is often good advice to go shoot something you aren't interested in, or even dislike, to improve your photography, an expensive trip is probably not the time.

So go somewhere you really have a passion for. If you are interested in Asian cultures and lifestyle, visit China or Japan. If not, maybe Europe. The world presents such a wide variety of cultures and climates. And not all of them are easy to travel in. It is easy to get inspired by images in magazines of exotic lands, but if trekking across the Sahara is not your idea of a good time and you can't go more than a day without hot water and room service, it is going to show in your photos. Your attitude can greatly affect the way you see things and if you are rushing through trying desperately to get back to civilization, your eyes are closed to photo opportunities.

Make it marketable

With more people able to travel longer and further, finding somewhere, something or someone that hasn't been covered in depth is increasingly harder to do.

Travel destinations, like clothes, go in and out of fashion. Look at magazines, newspapers, the internet and television amongst other sources to get an idea of what destinations are popular and what images are selling.

Make it cost effective

Think about your return on investment. Do you believe you will be able to make enough from the images you take on this trip to make it financially viable? You need to add up certain cost factors such as air fairs and expenses like hotels and food against how many of your images you believe you can sell and how. Do you intend to submit a few hundred photos to stock agencies with the intention of having them licensed in publications? Or do you have the fine art market in mind? Which ever way you believe works best for you, you will need to know your market and the potential of the images you create. Then you can decide if the trip can be profitable and if not, possibly alter some of your plans to make it so. Such as the type of accommodation you use, how you travel and the length of your stay.

Planning a photographic trip is a detailed exercise, especially if your goal is to make money from it, but if you start with the above points in mind, you have a better chance of being successful and moving on to bigger and better things.
About the Author
Mark Eden is a freelance travel photographer and owner of Expanse Photography, a photographic services company You can see Mark's, travel photography and contact Mark through the Expanse Photography website http://www.expansephotography.com.
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